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Refusing to be pigeon-holed for longer than you could hold a pigeon, Liars' fourth album follows last year's Drum's Not Dead with what seems like unseemly haste for the most quixotic, engaging and not a little intimidating three-piece between here and wherever you are.
Masters of metamorphosis, the eponymously titled new offering reveals yet another abrupt change of direction. Concept-free and drenched in noise, the result surprises with its easy, confidently handled reliance on traditional song structures and its unabashed use of solos. 'If you told me last year I'd be playing guitar solos', frontman Angus Hamilton declares in the accompanying press release, 'I'd have called you a liar'. All right, Angus, calm down mate, guitar solos need love, too, you know!
More immediately noticeable is the uncluttered honesty and directness on display. The album's first single, "Plaster Casts Of Everything", provides a raucous tantrum of an introduction to an 11-strong set that positively froths at the mouth with ideas and imagination.
Solace of sorts, found in the sulk-saturated "Houseclouds", is soon surrendered to the creepy cavernous, pitch-black incantations of "Leather Prowler". But just as the fear needle edges into red, along comes the blissfully semi-detached "Sailing Into Byzantium", all whispery and fuzzy and reassuringly free from sharp edges.
The drunkenly blurred demeanour of the Jesus & Mary Chain-like "Pure Unevil" comes courtesy of a dizzying cocktail of feedback and reverb that achieves a more vivid echo in the likeably sprawling "Dumb in the Rain". Closing track "Protection" is bittersweet nostalgia shot through with late-period prog-rock atmospherics and a sweetly maudlin finale to another vivid aural assault from a trio who keep you guessing about the how and the why of it all from start to finish.